The Dalai Lama doesn’t exactly do book tours, but a two-day visit to Chicago this week (July 17-18) saw him highlighting many of the ideas in his last book, Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together (Harmony, 2010). At two separate public events that drew almost 10,000 people, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate presented ideas on building bridges between faiths. Monday’s event was an interfaith panel with Michael Lerner (The Left Hand of God); Ingrid Mattson, former president of the Islamic Society of North America; and Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches of Christ-USA, with Eboo Patel (Acts of Faith) moderating.
Seated cross-legged in a comfortable chair on stage, the Dalai Lama (pictured here with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn) reiterated key themes of his life’s work: all people want to be happy, which gives humanity a unified goal; religions differ, but they all have the same potential to bring inner peace; and investigation, whether it be scientific work or the inner investigation of meditation, is the way to know reality. “Nobody gets up in the morning and says, ‘Today I should have more problems,’ ” His Holiness said, drawing a laugh from the attentive crowd at Chicago’s Harris Theater. “Many problems are actually mental creations. You can have peace of mind.”
The Dalai Lama’s visit to Chicago was sponsored by the Theosophical Society in America, headquartered in suburban Chicago. The Tibetan Buddhist leader’s relationship with the society began in 1956, when he visited the group’s international headquarters in India and came away with a conviction of the importance of interfaith relationships and human unity, views the society promotes.The Theosophical Publishing House, now known as Quest Books, published one of his first books in English, The Opening of the Wisdom-Eye (1966; second ed., 1991). Jessica Salasek, Quest publicist, said book sales at the events were going well. Some of the Dalai Lama’s many books are compiled from his talks, but that one was written by him, she added.
At the end of the session, the Dalai Lama presented panelists with ceremonial white silk scarves (katas). The audience received a humorous benediction as the spiritual leader said he would be returning to his second home in India. “You will remain, with your own problems,” he said.
Two major releases will come from the Dalai Lama in the fall: A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life, edited by Nicholas Vreeland, afterword by Richard Gere (Harmony, Sept.); and Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Dec.)